George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 21 November 1776

From John Hancock

Philada Novr 21t 1776.


I have the Honour to transmit the enclosed Resolves, in Obedience to the Commands of Congress. They are so explicit, that I shall only request your Attention to them.1

You will percieve from the Vote of Congress, the Sense of that Body with Regard to the Necessity of furnishing the Troops for the new Army, as soon as possible; a Copy of which, I have forwarded to the respective States agreeably to the Orders of Congress. I have also written to the States southward of Pennsylvania, inclusively, urging them to lay up Magazines of military Stores and Salt Provision, for the Use of the Army & Militia, in Case it should be necessary to call them into the Field the approaching Winter.2 As our Enemies will doubtless open the Campaign early in the Spring, it is absolutely necessary we should prepare for them, and exert ourselves to fill up the Army agreeably to the new Establishment.

The Congress, to remove every Objection, and in Hopes of forwarding the recruiting Service, have resolved that the Troops may be engaged for three Years, without presenting enlisting Rolls, both for that Term, and during the Continuance of the War, as ordered by a former Resolution.3 I have the Honour to be, with every Sentiment of Esteem, & Regard, Sir, your most obed. & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

The Inclos’d Letter from Mrs Graydon for her Son, I should esteem a favr you would order to be Convey’d if any Oppor[tunit]y.4

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The postscript of the LS is in Hancock’s writing.

1The enclosed document contains copies of Congress’s resolutions of 19 Nov. concerning ration returns, pay procedures for hospitalized soldiers, the establishment of military magazines south of New Jersey, and the urgent need for vigorous recruiting efforts, and its resolution of 21 Nov., which is dated 22 Nov. by mistake on the enclosure, rescinding the requirement that recruiting officers keep separate rolls for men enlisting for the duration of the war and those enlisting for three years (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:965–66, 971, and notes 2 and 3).

2See John Hancock to Certain States, 20 Nov., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 5:523. Congress resolved on 19 Nov. that “Congress deem it necessary, upon every Principle of Propriety, to remind the several States, how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate and vigorous Measures to furnish their respective Quotas of Troops for the new Army, as the Time of Service for which the present Army was enlisted is so near expiring that the Country may be left in a Condition, in a great Measure defenceless, unless quickly supplied by new Levies” (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:966).

Congress on the same date resolved “that Letters be immediately sent to the Councils of Safety, Conventions or Legislatures, of Pennsylvania and the States to the Southward thereof desiring them forthwith to lay up Magazines of military Stores, Ammunition, and salt Provisions, in the safest and most convenient Places in the said States respectively for the Use of such Continental Troops and Militia as it may be necessary to bring into the Field in the ensuing Winter for the Defence of these States” (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 966).

3Congress resolved on 21 Nov. “that each State be at Liberty to direct their recruiting Officers to enlist their Men either for the War or three Years upon the respective Bounties offered by Congress, without presenting enlisting Rolls for both Terms according to a former Resolution, keeping it always in View, that in the opinion of Congress, the public Service will be best promoted by Inlistments for the War, if the recruiting Business is not retarded thereby” (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 971). For resolution of 12 Nov. requiring separate enlisting rolls, see ibid., 945.

4The letter that Rachel Marks Graydon (1723–1807) of Philadelphia wrote to her son Capt. Alexander Graydon (1752–1818) of the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment has not been identified. Captain Graydon, who had been captured at Fort Washington on 16 Nov. and was now a prisoner in New York City, says in his memoirs that he received this letter from his mother two or three weeks after reaching the city. It informed him that Capt. Thomas Hesketh of the British 7th Regiment had money for him and that his brother Andrew Graydon, an ensign in the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment who also was at Fort Washington on 16 Nov., had escaped capture by crossing the Hudson River on a boat (see Graydon, Memoirs description begins Alexander Graydon. Memoirs of His Own Time. With Reminiscences of the Men and Events of the Revolution. Edited by John Stockton Littell. Philadelphia, 1846. description ends , 228).

GW wrote Mrs. Graydon on 30 Nov. from New Brunswick, N.J.: “Your Letter to your Son (Inclosed to me) went in the day after it came to my hands; by a Flag which happened to be going to New York. I am very sorry for the misfortune of your Sons Captivity, but these are accidents which must be experienced, & felt in War—Colo. Cadwalader who has been suffered to return to Philadelphia would be able to inform you of your Sons health. any hard money which you may be able to forward to me or Mr Tilghman (who is of my Family) shall be contrivd to him by some means or other” (ALS, MiU-C: Schoff Collection; see also ibid., 228–29).

Graydon, who had been commissioned a captain in the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment on 5 Jan. 1776, was paroled on 7 July 1777, and he was exchanged on 15 April 1778. For his mother’s efforts to procure his release, see Hancock to GW, 20 May 1777, DLC:GW, and ibid., 260–70. Graydon did not reenter the army after his exchange.

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